Tony Khan Explains The Process Behind Bringing In CM Punk, Executing ‘The First Dance’
Photo Credit: All Elite Wrestling
Tony Khan and CM Punk were in cahoots for much longer than most fans expect. In a recent sit down interview with The Wrestling Observer, Tony Khan detailed just how long the two had been talking and how TNT played a huge role in getting Punk onboard with All Elite Wrestling.
Khan said, “We’ve been talking a really long time. A few years ago, he wasn’t ready to come back to wrestling, especially not for a startup company. Now we’re long past the startup phase. It’s been really successful. We signed a big TV extension and I think once we got the extension and it looked like we were going to be in place for a while, it probably made the company look a lot more like a stable option for CM Punk.”
Continuing on, Tony said “We’d met up in person in Chicago a few years ago and it was super pleasant and I liked him a lot. Even if it wasn’t the right fit, it was good to get to know him. Then I think, you know, he wasn’t gonna be the guinea pig for this thing, and I understood that. He was really following it very closely, and we built a great business and a lot of great wrestlers came into this company. I think we were in a place where we really wanted to work together and he wanted to come in and come back and work with all these exciting young wrestlers and work with people he never had a chance to get in the ring with.”
As far as executing ‘The First Dance’, both Khan and Punk knew it had to be a full crowd event that was unique. Khan said “He really had a great idea that he wanted to come back in the United Center. He asked about All Out and I told him, you know, we’ve had this great thing going with the Now Arena and the fans have been going to shows there for us for a while even before I started AEW. The Young Bucks and Cody had run a show there independently, that was, you know, a good show that I attended and did really well. Then I looked at our calendar and we were booked for TV in Milwaukee and before that, we were doing Dynamite in Houston. I hadn’t booked an arena for Rampage yet and I wasn’t sure if we were going to do it live. That was kind of the date on the calendar and it was just a perfect date for a lot of reasons. The building was available and I got the United Center booked and called him back and I said I bought the building.”
When it came to the ‘First Dance’ theme, Khan said “I had watched The Last Dance a lot and I just thought what he had come up with, his idea to go to the United Center was so awesome. So then I mentioned The Last Dance. I thought it would be so cool that instead of documenting the end of this incredible indelible journey, we could capture something that would last forever again with this indelible memory that would be the beginning of a new journey, and that would be The First Dance, and he loved it. He had that great list he put out of people that he thought would be great opponents for him and, of course, one very prominent name on that list was Darby Allin. Darby Allin in the past year has gotten as hot as any wrestler we have.”
CM Punk and Darby Allin are scheduled for All Out on September 5 in Chicago. Who do you think will come out victorious in that match? Comment below and let us know.
Thanks to Fightful for providing transcriptions.